Great Fielding Mishaps: A Personal Reflection

BY BOZZA

This past weekend I made my debut for the Emerald Hill Cricket Club in their practise match against Middle Park. Still resplendent in cap and kit of my beloved Boneo Cricket Club, I took to the field eager to impress my new team mates.

After a couple of nice, easy, dying drives fielded and returned, my first test arrived. The Middle Park batsman who, like all his mates, seemed eager to free their arms at anything, clubbed a few mighty sixes and had mistimed another hoik into my general vicinity. Whilst a genuine edge, it was hit with such venom, it was still a tracer bullet that I was trying to hurriedly intercept. After making good ground, I was still in motion as I attempted to grasp my first chance at Emerald Hill glory. Unfortunately, rather than celebrate success, I had to ignominiously chase after my dropped chance.

After retrieving my spilt opportunity and returning it to the less than happy keeper, I went through the tried and true dropped catch reaction. A couple of loud expletives, a kick at the ground as I shuffled back into position and hand gestures – more friendly than the ones my team-mates were offering me – of text book catching techniques. It was then that I noticed the large amount of blood flowing from and covering my hand. My debut was over only 5 overs long and most inauspicious.

With my ring finger now four times its normal size and another personal nomination to the list secured, I thought it a perfect time to review the great fielding mishaps of all time.

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You’ve just dropped the World Cup

Australia and South Africa met in the Super Six stage of the 1999 World Cup in England. After being set 271 for victory, Steve Waugh was at the crease early with Australia in trouble. A cock-sure Herschelle Gibbs welcomed the Australian skipper with “Let’s see how he handles pressure now”.

On 56, Waugh hit a dolly to mid-wicket and the waiting hands of a buoyant and waiting Gibbs. As had been his way all tournament, the South African, after getting hands to the ball, attempted to flick it into the air in celebration. Unfortunately for him, in doing so this time the ball slips from his grasp and he grants Waugh a life. Folklore has it that Waugh told Gibbs at this time ‘You just dropped the World Cup’, something both players now deny but I will refuse to disbelieve.

Waugh went on to score a match-winning 120, the two teams would meet again four days later in the Semi-Final where Waugh repeated the dose and Australia eliminated South Africa after an extraordinary tied result.

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Oooh Argh – There goes Glenn McGrath

As Australia completed their warm ups in Headingly, the moments ahead of the Second Ashes Test of 2005 appeared extremely rosy. A comprehensive First Test victory would have had the tourists very confident of maintaining their proud record of not having lost a series in England for 20 years.

Proving the dangers of cricket balls – and of training in general – First Test hero Glenn McGrath rolled his ankle stepping on one as he attempted to catch a football. In immense pain, the quick was an extremely late withdrawal from the Test with very limited movement in his right ankle and was rushed to hospital for x-rays.

In his absence the Australian’s lost in one of Test Cricket’s greatest finishes, with his replacement Michael Kasprowicz last man out in a two-run defeat. The momentum gained from the emphatic First Test victory was lost and the Australian’s went onto lose their long held grip on the Ashes in one of the oldest rivalries’ most classic series.

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Kandy Carnage

In reply to Australia’s paltry first innings of 188, Sri Lanka were cruising along at 3/139 when Mahela Jaywardene skied a chance backward of square leg. Steve Waugh and Jason Gillespie, sensing a chance, made their way, oblivious of each other, towards Jaywardene’s offering and one of the most sickening collisions in the history of the sport.

Waugh head first and Gillespie feet first collided with each other and spilled the chance, the horrific nature of the clash saw the Australian fielders forget the ball and rush to their fallen team-mates. Jaywardene and his partner Aravinda de Silva also sensing the seriousness of the incident declined the opportunity to score more runs as the ball continued into the outfield.

Both were rushed by helicopter to Kandy hospital where Waugh’s broken nose and Gillespie’s shattered shin were hurriedly treated. Gillespie was immediately precluded from the remainder of the tour but Waugh had visions of being part of the Aussie fight back in the match, however his surgeon had sobering news. “His nose is disfigured and there are serious lacerations. Waugh wants to get back to play by tomorrow, but I told him it was out of question and he would have to wait for at least two weeks.”

The Australian’s fought hard to the end, but batting two short in their second innings was a mountain too high and they fell to six wicket defeat. Until this year, the only defeat Australia had suffered at the hands of Sri Lanka.

 

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